Empathy Mapping: Improving Design and Effectiveness of Health Promotion Interventions


Jolynn K. Gardner, PhD, MA, CHES

Director, Public Health Program, Department of Health Studies, American University

CHES 1.0* | ICHWC 1.0 |CDR 1.0

Empathy has been defined as “a shared understanding and experience” or “the ability to identify and understand another person’s situation and feelings.” Empathy promotes not only understanding, but also collaboration, communication, and innovation. Thus, some feel it is virtually an essential quality in the health promotion profession.

Empathy mapping was originally developed in the organizational design profession. Empathy maps provide a process for empathizing with clients, community members, service or product users, or stakeholders. They help us understand a person’s experiences and the context of those experiences. Empathy mapping can be used to help target the focus of health promotion programs and interventions, and can also be used as an effective instructional tool in health promotion education.

This presentation will provide an overview of empathy mapping, describe best practices in utilization of empathy maps, and explore applications of empathy mapping in health promotion interventions and education.

Presenter Bio(s):

Jolynn Gardner has over 25 years of experience in health promotion and public health practice and education. She has worked as a worksite health promotion director and has investigated the effects of stress and coping resources on employee health and job satisfaction. As an educator, she has helped to develop the undergraduate program in Public Health at American University and she serves as a faculty member for the Master of Science in Health Promotion Management program. She co-authored a textbook on Health Promotion curriculum development, Health Promotion and Education: Content and Curriculum with Robert Wandberg and is currently working on a second edition of the text.